Rep. Gabrielle Giffords announced Sunday that she has "more work to do" on her recovery after an assassination attempt and will resign from her congressional seat this week.None of this was Giffords' fault, of course, but it's clear that she was unable to represent the district during her recovery period, and based on recent video of her, I had my doubts she would be able to recover in sufficient time to campaign and return to the office next term. Maybe in a couple of years.
In a video release posted on her website and tweeted from her Twitter handle, the congresswoman said that she is getting better but wants to do what's right for her constituents.
"Arizona is my home, always will be. A lot has happened over the past year. We cannot change that, but I know that on the issues we fought for we can change things for the better: Jobs, border security, veterans. We can do so much more by working together," she says in the two-minute video.
"I don't remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice. Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. I have more work to do on my recovery so to do what is best for Arizona, I will step down this week," she says.
One of my conservative Facebook friends offered the idea that only Democrats should be allowed to run in election to fill out the rest of her term because the district had chosen a Democrat and they should be able to continue to have a Democrat in the office. He was also afraid that electing a Republican would offer the message that violence is an acceptable way to deal with political differences.
I disagreed, as you might expect and was just about the lone voice of opposition to that idea. Here's what I posted:
We're a two party system and no seat is guaranteed to either party. Seats become vacant for a lot of reasons and competition is good for all of us. In the same situation there's no doubt that Democrats would run a candidate so I have no problems with the GOP putting someone in the campaign.What some people don't remember about Giffords is that when Congress opened a few days before she was shot she took part in a reading of the Constitution on the House floor. Not many Democrats chose to do that, most of them complaining that it was just a stunt. I think her participation probably reflected both the more conservative nature of her district, and her own moderate beliefs.
Just an FYI - that district is rated R+4 which tells me that Giffords was elected not so much because she was a Democrat but because she was Gabby Giffords. Enough Republicans liked her to overcome the voter registration difference. Chances are they'll elect another Democrat because that sentiment will be there, but it's by no means a gimme and it shouldn't be.
Regarding political violence, we know from subsequent investigation that this was not a politically-motivated shooting. The suspect was a nut, and because she happened to be his congressman, he went after her. Party didn't matter as this guy was shown to be an apolitical person.
One thing that seemed completely lost on many of those commenting who agreed with the one-party election idea is that congressional seats don't belong to the party. They don't even belong to the candidate. They belong to the voters of that district and are on loan to the winning candidate until the term ends or the person otherwise leaves the office. If they belonged to the party a candidate would not be able to change parties during the term, something that happens with great regularity. I'm afraid this is one of those situations where emotions are trumping the law.
If the GOP runs a candidate I can already see the DNC ads that will be run against him/her. It will be full of "win one for Gabby" rhetoric just as we saw after Sen. Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash and Walter Mondale was drafted to run for his seat. The candidate's qualifications will be nowhere to be found.
I expect a Democrat will end up filling the term, but all bets are off in November.